Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Review: The Mind Cafe

by Lizzy Ford

The Mind Cafe is a thought-provoking short story with something to say. The main character, Rosie, is the creation of author Lizzy Ford and a person who would unfortunately be all too easy to find in real life. She suffered an accident in her past (she demarcates time in "BDA" and "ADA" -- "Before or After the Damn Accident") and has been left in the author's words "a human vegetable." Rosie is dependent on assisted living, aided by a rude young Guatemalan nurse who can barely speak a lick of English and has MTV playing constantly, which Rosie can't stand. Furthermore, Rosie's only form of communication is a "virtual keyboard" invented by her tech savvy sister that registers her eye movements and clumsily translates them into words on a screen. (I'm unsure if a device like this actually exists, but if not I think it was a clever stroke on the part of Ford. It's very logical and practical piece of technology that should be invented.) With not much joy to be had in the real world, Rosie slips into the Mind Cafe, a place that the reader, or Rosie for that matter, can't fully define. Is it a figment of her imagination or something more spiritual? In any case, Rosie, who while in her dream state has the body of her 24 year-old self except for her silver 60 year-old which she much adores, prefers her Mind Cafe to the MTV playing in her living room, and the narrative of this story focuses on her interactions with the people in the cafe. Some of the diners are important friends and family members and some are people she's never met. I don't want to spoil the conversations because they are the crux of the book, but there is one I want to mention that I thought was cleverly done. A psychologist whom Rosie has never actually met in real life and only knows from a book she read in college visits her to essentially act as her therapist. Interestingly, the man's face never really changes, no smiles or frowns, and that's because Rosie's only seen one photograph of him on the back cover of his book.

As far as being a story that asks philosophical questions (What is the meaning of life? Is death a blessing or a curse? etc) The Mind Cafe is excellent. As far as a fiction goes  I still think this is pretty good, but I think sometimes the writing gets a little murky. I found myself having to reread a few passages to understand exactly what it was the author was saying. I think fans of a more Literary-style fiction will be drawn to this as will people who enjoy contemplating philosophy. All in all, The Mind Cafe is a worthwhile read.

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